Your organization will experience crisis. Mistakes will be made. Someone will have a bad experience. A member of your organization will say or do something dumb, or heaven forbid, criminal. And because everyone with a smartphone is a publisher, small fires are harder to contain.
In our post on crisis communications planning we addressed the role social media plays in crisis response and how to develop a social media strategy as part of your crisis communications plan. But it’s easier said than done. In our final post in the four-part series we want to prepare you to execute social media strategy in crisis.
How to execute social media strategy in crisis
During a crisis, use social media to your advantage. It’s one of the quickest ways to reach those you need to reach, and it becomes your company’s unifying voice.
As company statements
Reporters will expect to see your updates and will use them for quotes. Ensure any social media posts strictly reiterate news release content, police statements or speeches made by other authorities. Use social to link to longer statements. Some social platforms and some crisis situations lend themselves to more personal/first-person posts and others to more corporate/official posts.
In rapid succession
It’s okay to tweet rapidly if the updates are critical. It will help you get your messages across more authoritatively and as thoroughly as possible. On Facebook, fewer but more complete updates are better, but don’t ignore engagement once you’ve posted the information.
Sensitive to time
Real-time communication tools call for real-time updates. Tweet along with press conferences, during news programs or even on the scene. Most social media platforms incorporate time stamps on each posting; however, make sure other materials you may link to are time-stamped as well. Don’t forget to keep your landing page and social media platforms regularly updated so your audiences have the latest news.
Often, companies wonder how much engagement should be allowed on social media during crises. At all times, it is important to watch and listen to the conversation happening online. However, you shouldn’t respond to anything you see or read without understanding its intent. Here are four things to consider before replying:
- Has someone tweeted a genuine question or concern directly at you? If so, reply to them with an answer if you can. Depending on the question, it may be better to ask them to send you a direct message so you can reply out of the public’s eye, especially if you are dealing with privacy issues. If you don’t have the answer, let them know their question has been received and an answer will be shared as soon as possible.
- Has someone questioned you directly using false information? Reply to them with an answer, and direct them to your landing page.
- Has someone created a false claim to perpetuate a negative thought? Then, no, there’s no need to respond directly online to that person. Instead, use the opportunity to clear up any rumors or misinformation by posting a message reiterating where to find the most accurate, up-to-date information – either on your website or through the authorities.
- Has someone threatened you? Do not respond. Alert your team and report the message to authorities.
Every organization will experience crisis. If you have a crisis communications plan in place and follow it faithfully, your organization is more likely to emerge with its reputation intact.
If you just need a crisis communications plan or you’re looking for a partner to execute one for you, drop us a line!
This all sounds good, but how do you put it all together in real life, right? Here’s how Borshoff used social media to help a client earn rave reviews for their crisis response.
Read other posts in the series: